Truth behind tournament paychecks: Financial scorecards go beyond money lists

Truth behind tournament paychecks: Financial scorecards go beyond money lists

Euro Tour

Truth behind tournament paychecks: Financial scorecards go beyond money lists

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A professional golfer’s financial scorecard goes well beyond what’s printed on the money list. Tournament paychecks tell only part of the story.

What’s a 50th-ranked player really taking home?

Depends on the tour. The disparity between the world’s most elite men and women gets the brightest spotlight. In 2019, consider that No. 50 on the Symetra Tour, Allison Emrey, made $26,960 compared to Viktor Hovland’s $111,000 on the Korn Ferry Tour. Or how about the European Tour’s No. 50, Jordan Smith, taking in 735,094 euros compared to Azahara Munoz at 31,227 euros on the LET?

PGA Tour players competed for approximately $343 million in official money in the 2018-19 season, plus $71 million in bonus money (FedEx Cup, Wyndham Rewards and Aon Risk Reward Challenge).

The LPGA’s total purse this season: $70.2 million. Add in $1.1 million for the Leaders Top 10 competition and Aon Risk Reward Challenge.

Even an opposite-field event on the PGA Tour, the Barbasol Championship ($3.5 million), held the same week as the Open Championship ($10.75 million), and had a bigger purse than the LPGA’s first major, the ANA Inspiration ($3 million).

For this exercise, Golfweek talked to several players and agents on both the LPGA and PGA Tour to create composite players who are ranked 50th on their respective tours.

These are average numbers based on interviews. Endorsement dollars vary wildly from player to player based on what country they’re from, Q-Rating, amateur results and professional success.

Brooks Koepka topped the 2019 PGA Tour money list, earning $9,684,006 over 21 events with three wins. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The charts do not take into account variables such as at-home expenses, dependents, mortgage write-offs, insurance, retirement savings, charitable giving, etc. Tax variables include if a player has an LLC, if he or she files as a single or joint and in what countries and states the player made money.

Cash flow: PGA Tour player

Winnings based on 25 events, ranking No. 50 on the PGA Tour.

Total Income

$2,755,000

Prize Money

$2.150 million

FedEx Cup Bonus

$155,000

Additional Earnings

$450,000

Includes endorsements, appearances at events such as store openings and private dinners, as well as fireside chats, speaking engagements and meet-and-greets.

Expenses

$547,500

Hotels

$55,000

That’s $300 per night, seven nights per week. This sum is often higher if the player takes his family on the road and gets an extra room.

Airfare

$30,000

Dependent on whether the player flies first class, takes family members, etc.

Caddie

$200,000

Based on payment of $2,000 per start, plus 7% for made cuts and 10 percent for a victory.

Swing Coach

$60,000

Players could work out a deal on a percentage basis of their earnings with their coach, usually from 1% to 4%.

Trainer

$40,000

Mental coach

$50,000

Agent

$75,000

Expenditure is usually 10% to 20% of contracts, appearances and outings. No prize money is involved.

Meals

$25,000

Breakfast and lunches are typically provided at tournament courses.

Accountant

$5,000

Incidentals

$7,500

This includes tips, entertainment, etc.

Write-offs

$526,000

Player’s travel: 100 percent.
This applies to only the player’s travel. If he takes his significant other or his family, that’s not allowed for a write-off unless the person or people are on the payroll.

Meals: 50 percent
Entertainment: 50 percent
Instructor, psychologist, physio, agent, caddie: 100 percent

Taxes

$936,180

Top federal rate is 37%. States taxes and foreign taxes is about 5%. Players could file state taxes in 20 jurisdictions, as well as foreign taxes that are offset by a foreign tax credit in the United States. Players also pay self-employment tax.

Bottom line

Take-home Pay: $1,271,320


Cash flow: LPGA player

Total Income

$480,000

Prize money

$420,000

Winnings based on 27 events, ranking No. 50 on the LPGA.

Additional Earnings

$60,000

This could be much higher. The top South Korean players already on the KLPGA command endorsements in the low six figures.

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko topped the LPGA money list, earning $2,773,894 over 22 events with four wins. (Photo: Laurent Cipriani/AP)

Expenses

$173,200

Hotels

$22,000

This can be cheaper if players share a hotel room or use host housing available at some tournaments.

Airfare

$11,000

Flights and hotels for limited-field Asian events are free for players only.

Rental Car

$5,000

Unlike the PGA Tour, players rent their own cars most of the time instead of having a courtesy car provided at events.

Meals

$10,000

Breakfast and lunch are free at the course.

Caddie

$76,200

$1,300 plus 10% for aw in and 8% for everything else. Let’s say the fee is $68,700 plus $7,500 for overseas flights.

Instruction

$15,000

This includes on-the-road expenses.

Trainer

$5,000

Mental Coach

$4,500

Agent

$12,000

This is typically 20% of endorsements.

Accountant

$1,500

Incidentals

$6,000

This includes entertainment, physios, tips, Ubers, etc.

Golf Membership

$5,000

May include discounted fees, plus tips to play various places.

Write-offs

$165,200

Player’s travel: 100 percent.
This applies to only the player’s travel. If she takes a significant other or her family, that’s not allowed for a write-off unless the person or people are on the payroll.

Meals: 50 percent
Entertainment: 50 percent
Instructor, psychologist, physio, agent, caddie: 100 percent

Taxes

$124,559

Average federal income tax: $84,996 (27%)
Average state/foreign income tax: $15,740 (5%)
Self-employment tax: $23,823 ($18,000 plus 2% of earnings over $118,500)
Total taxes: $124,559

Bottom Line

Take-home Pay: $182,241. Gwk

This story originally appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of Golfweek. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.

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